So I had some downtime recently and decided to spend it doing what I used do as a kid, put together a model. I’m not an expert modeler and I don’t do models very often, so when I do, I look for ones that are unique. Models where I can’t find any alternatives for. I was drawn to the NX-01 Enterprise refit done by Polar lights, found on Amazon for under $30 here. Released back in 2013 , this 1/1000 sale ship is a snap-it-together, or glueless style based on the ship from the Star Trek show Enterprise. You have three options of builds with this kit: the default Enterprise seen in the show, Columbia with very slight part variations and decal changes, and what is seen on the cover, the Refit style with the added secondary hull.
The refit of the Enterprise was never actually used on the screen, though there was speculation that it could’ve made it in later seasons of Star Trek Enterprise if the show wasn’t canceled. It first grabbed my attention in the beautiful Ships Of The Line Calendar. Though I was never a big fan of Star Trek Enterprise I was nevertheless intrigued by the idea of updating NX-01. I’ve always been in love with the idea of things changing, upgrading and moving forward, pulling outdated technology into the future. I love seeing historical photos juxtaposing old naval ships with newer technology. like seeing an old WWI battleship crudely being retro fitted with a flight deck, heralding the end of one ship design while ushering in another.
I guess this was the appeal to me of this ship, it looked to be evolving into the future. It took the ship and morphed it into something closer to the Original Series. I’ve only seen artist conceptions of it and wanted to look at it at all angles. See what impressions it gave from typical view points and some more combat oriented angles. I guess I’m weird like that.
In the fiction of the show, technical reasons for the refit have been proposed as; increased power or faster warp, or both. The increasing threat of Romulans and the eventual war spoken about in the episode Balance of Terror were really good reasons to upgrade the ship. This could’ve been a missing link in Starfleet ship design, and a testament to what could’ve been. It was the imagination sci fi and I wanted it realized. And it linked Enterprise with the Original Series in both form and idea. Cool.
What isn’t especially explicit with this model kit is it is a three in one model kit. Giving you the choice to build the default Enterprise or Columbia along with the Refit. Though most people who build this will probably be opting for the refit the two redundant options makes the instruction more complicated. Often times it will have you doing steps; 1,2,3 but skipping 4 and 5 if doing the Refit and so on. This makes the instructions muddled and more complicated than needed. However if you’re familiar with Star Trek Enterprise show then this shouldn’t slow you down much. You may’ve noticed already from the show the slight difference in deflector dishes between Columbia and Enterprise. Or even that the Original Series Enterprise had little needles on its Bussard Collectors in the pilot. You’ll also have three options for decals depending on the type of build and these can be a little difficult to follow instructions for. Just try to imagine only using a third of the instructions and the rest is just a distraction.
Fortunately since this isn’t officially cannon you have wiggle room for improvisation if you want. I think most Star Trek fans shouldn’t have trouble with the three sets of instructions and extra parts but young children and those unfamiliar with the show may have to pay closer attention.
The model isn’t particularly difficult to do, some sites having it as ages 10 and up. Part of the reason is it’s a Snap kit, meaning that it can be assembled without glue. But I’d recommend you use glue regardless. I’ve found that using to glue doesn’t really make a kit any harder but it ensures that the pieces fit all the way together and makes sure they stay together without any gaps between the parts. I believe making it glueless is just a method of the company of marketing to parents of younger builders. And well I’m a grown up dang it … …
The scale of the ship is pretty good though most people may feel it’s smaller than expected. Coming in at just under 9 inches the Enterprise Refit is in great proportion to other models but especially the Diamond Select Enterprise from the Original Series. Its size does pose problems for those wanting to run lights in it though. And for some reason they felt the need to use extremely small parts in the kit that add no aesthetic value, seemingly just to add work. They could’ve just have easily added, say the bridge as part of the saucer section without losing any detail. Instead it has you attaching it for no gained detail. You’ll find many instances of this where unnoticeable little pieces have to be glued that would’ve not needed to be done with other model kits. This would make since on a larger kit but on one of this size the detail gained by this isn’t noticeable.
Time to Finish
It took about 8 hours including painting and decals, a little longer if you leisurely go about it as you watch season four of Enterprise as I was doing. Oh that Brent Spinner and his Augments … … On the whole the model was fairly easy to assemble and decals and painting are what you would expect for a model of this type.
The overall default plastic color of the ship is way too glossy to leave as is, so I’d recommend painting it over with at least something grayish. The highlight painting scheme is rather simple, though if you want to go the patch work metal style known as “aztecing”, as seen on the show, this may take longer. I opted for a transition solid color look of the Original Series as I didn’t want to hassle with aztecing a model of this size.
All in all I was really impressed with this little NX-01 model. For its size and it being a snap-together it has excellent detail. I particularly liked the details on rim of the saucer section and those near the bridge. I loved the look of the default nacelles and opted instead to keep the plates off that would normally cover them as part of the Refit. However the detail on the secondary hull wasn’t quite as good as the rest of the ship being only just barely good enough I suppose. The stand is a little Spartan for my liking as well as being very plain, a black oval with a metallic rod shooting perpendicular from it. The stand isn’t really in line with the show’s style but it does hold the ship firmly. Something I can’t say for the Diamond Select line of Ships (points finger at them). But the paint scheme and decals add a lot to this little ship and makes it look as good, if not better, than the Diamond Select brand of starships. In the end I feel it was well worth the time and effort to build her.
NX-01 Enterprise Refit Conclusion
Having the NX-01 Refit model on my shelf next to the Constitution class is a great feeling of continuation. With no Star Trek show on TV just yet and Enterprise’s abrupt cancellation it reminds me of what the show could’ve been, an evolution to Kirk’s era. It’s odd how much both The Original and Enterprise had in common. In looking at the ship though I realized some of its flaws. For one, the secondary hull can only be seen from certain angles and is completely obscured by the primary hull from above. This is a very common angle that the ship was often shot from.
Filming wise I imagine this could be used for some really creative reveals. Imagine the ship rounding an asteroid looking like its earlier form and slowly revealing its extra bulk as it aligns with its target and let’s loose a volley of torpedoes. In the real world this means that my new little ship’s home will be somewhere aloft, high up so I can see the secondary hull. Placing it down lower has the secondary hull obscured by the saucer section. But unlike other Star Trek ships this one doesn’t necessarily look good from every angle, I don’t know what it is. It just isn’t as aesthetically pleasing to look at from all angles as the Constitution or Galaxy was.
Another starship design flaw that I couldn’t help but to notice is where neck attaches the primary hull. It connects where the shuttle bay used to be, blocking one bay entirely and obstructing another. From the decals it looks like one of the shuttle bays have moved to the secondary hull but I imagined ship designers would have moved the neck further back or forward, perhaps spoiling the nostalgia of the Constitution class but being more practical. I don’t think I would’ve ever thought of this without having a physical model in my hands.
As I write this I see that Eaglemoss, the magazine miniature Star Trek ship maker, is planning a NX-01 Refit release in June 2016 as part of a special edition. Eaglemoss captured the original NX-01 beautifully so this could be another option for people who want to see the refit in real life like me but don’t want to bother with building it. It looks to retail at about $40 and will be slightly larger than the standard ships that they make, though much smaller than this model.
She certainly is a pretty ship. What do you think of the NX-01 Enterprise Refit starship and model? Comment below!